What you need to know about the Hong Kong Chief Executive Election

Hong Kong's chief executive candidates (from left) Carrie Lam, John Tsang and Woo Kwok-hing look on as the Chief Executive Election Forum was interrupted by pro-democracy lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung in Hong Kong on March 19, 2017.
Hong Kong's chief executive candidates (from left) Carrie Lam, John Tsang and Woo Kwok-hing look on as the Chief Executive Election Forum was interrupted by pro-democracy lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung in Hong Kong on March 19, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

On Sunday (March 26), a 1,194-member election committee will be tasked to pick Hong Kong's fourth chief executive.

The election will be the first since the 2014 Occupy protests that pushed for a "one man, one vote" system to pick the chief executive, a role with a five-year term. The 79-day street protests had failed to push the government into agreeing to democratic reforms.

For the first time, the pro-democracy camp is holding 326 votes or more than a quarter of the total. It has pledged more than 290 votes for Mr John Tsang, who is seen as the underdog in the race.

A candidate needs at least 601 votes to win, but the outcome of the race is widely seen to have already been determined by the central government in Beijing.

WHO ARE THE CANDIDATES?

1. Former financial secretary John Tsang, 65, who has the highest public support ratings.

2. Former chief secretary Carrie Lam, 59, who is the favourite to win as she is backed by Beijing.

3. Retired judge Woo Kwok Hing, 70, who is seen a moderate candidate as he does not have a strong political leaning.

HIGHLIGHTS OF ELECTION MANIFESTOS


Chief Executive candidates (from left) former Financial Secretary John Tsang, former Chief Secretary Carrie Lam and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing pose before a debate in Hong Kong, China on March 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

1. Mr Tsang pledged to restart political reform and and vowed to enact Article 23 - which will ban acts of treason and subversion against the Chinese government.

2. Mrs Lam promises a new style of governance, solving the city's housing problems and engaging youth in policy making, if she is elected.

3. Mr Woo vowed to restart the political reform process and aims to achieve universal suffrage for Hong Kong.

HOW IS THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE SELECTED?

A 1,194-member Election Committee made up of mostly pro-Beijing property tycoons and lawmakers as well as representatives of professional bodies and trade associations will cast their votes in a secret balloting system between 9am and 11am on Sunday.

The city's next leader will need at least 601 votes to win.

If there is no winner in the first round, the leading two candidates will face off in a second round of voting, which will take place between 2pm and 3pm on the same day.

If a third round is required, the polling hours will be from 7pm to 8pm.

WHY IS THIS ELECTION IMPORTANT?

The election is taking place against the backdrop of a highly divided society.

Whoever wins the election will need to balance the demands of Beijing and growing calls for democracy in Hong Kong, as seen by violent street protests and direct challenges to Beijing's authority by localist lawmakers in the Legislative Council.